Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Muslims Try To Commandeer Spanish Cathedral

Cordoba cathedral in Spain is situated inside a complex that used to be a mosque. The mosque itself was built upon the remains of a church which had been destroyed by the invading Moors. It is currently the subject of a third attempt by Muslims to allow it to be used as an Islamic place of worship.
The Christian church of St Vicente was built by the Visigoths in the 5th century. The church was built upon the site of a pagan temple to the Roman god Janus, the deity of past and present, whose two faces simultaneously looked back and forward. In 711, the church of St Vicente became used as a mosque. The church was finally demolished in 786 by Abd al-Rahman 1, who used much of the church's materials in constructing a new mosque. The mosque built by Rahman was expanded three times, with the final enlargement made in 988 by Al-Mansur.
Al-Mansur was a despoiler of Christian places of worship. He went to Santiago de Compostela, and had his horse drink from the Cathedral there. He had the massive bells of its Cathedral dragged from Santiago 500 miles to Cordoba. Here the bells of Santiago were melted down to be made into oil lamps for his pet project, the Cordoba mosque.
In 1236, Cordoba was conquered by Ferdinand of Castile and was re-consecrated as a Christian site of worship. Ferdinand III ordered that the oil lamps be transported back to the shrine of St James at Santiago, where they were melted down to become made into bells again.
Alfonso X built the Villaviciosa Chapel inside the mosque complex using Moorish craftsmen, and the Royal Chapel was built. In the 14th century, Enrique II had the Royal Chapel (Capilla Real) rebuilt.
In 1523, it was decided by the Catholic Church, supported by King Carlos V, to erect a cathedral inside the center of the Cordoba mosque complex. An area of the mosque was hollowed out and a cathedral nave was erected. This became continually expanded with more elaborate features. Choir stalls, built with mahogany from the New World, were carved by Duque Correjo in the 18th century.
The Cathedral inside the mosque complex (known as the Mezquita) is comparatively small, with only places for 1,000 worshippers inside.
Muslim demands
There are only 500 to 1,000 Muslims in Cordoba, but the Mezquita has become a focus for political Islam to force itself into a battle with the Catholic church. In 2002, Muslim women who tried to pray in the mosque complex were thrown out. These were the first foot-soldiers in the political battle.
In 2004, Muslim terrorists set off bombs on trains in Madrid on March 11, killing 191 and injuring 1,700. Despite national revulsion at Islamic terrorism, the political Muslims in Cordoba still made requests for their own "space" at the Mezquita. In the same month that the mainly Moroccan (Moorish) terrorists showed their contempt for Spanish culture, a group calling itself Junta Islamica petitioned Pope John Paul for permission to be given to Muslims to pray in the complex.
At the time, Mansur Escudero, the secretary-general of the Spanish Islamic Commission stated that allowing Muslims to pray at the Mezquita would be an important gesture. He said: "In these difficult times, it could be an important symbol for both Catholics and Muslims, an expression of willingness to enter into dialogue. We're not trying to take the Mezquita away from anyone, but simply open it up."
In April 2004, before the decision by the Vatican was made, Zakarias Maza, director of the Taqwa mosque in Granada said: "We hope the Vatican will give a signal that it has a vision of openness and dialogue. It would be good if there were a gesture of tolerance on their part. Cordoba has been a symbol of the union of three cultures for centuries. Even now, Jews and Muslims live together with Christians in the neighbourhood around the mosque. The church council doesn't seem to be open to dialogue."
The March 2004 request was not greeted positively by the Catholic Church. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, the Vatican's president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said that the issue should be decided by Cordoba's bishop. He added: "Muslims must accept history."
Archbishop Fitzgerald made some interesting observations. He said: "A general reflection is needed here. As there are monumental buildings in Cordoba, there are also others around the world which currently have a use different from that of the original - like the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, now an Islamic museum, despite pressure put on by some Muslims to use it again as a mosque."
He mentioned that Pope John Paul had visited the Umayad Mosque in Damascus and had prayed at the tomb of John the Baptist. He noted that the then-Pope "did not ask to celebrate Mass in the mosque."
He said: "It is difficult to have Christians and Muslims mixing and sharing a common life. The shared use of a building by various churches is problematic. There are spaces dedicated to this purpose, for example, in airports. But they are not churches or mosques. They are interfaith spaces, capable of being used by Jews, Christians, Muslims and persons of other faiths alike."
"But this is based on a type of agreement to allow for their shared use. Yet this is not the reality in Cordoba, where the building belongs to a specific community. We want to live in peace with persons of other religions. However, we don't want to be pushed, manipulated and go against the very rules of our faith. If it is a Catholic chapel with the Blessed Sacrament inside. It should not be used for prayer services of another religious tradition."
One local priest, who did not wish to be named, said: "It's a reconquest. Through force, through geography, through culture, they [the Muslims] are trying to take over."
The Madrid train bombings brought a new consciousness to Spain's political life. Osama bin Laden, in a message made five months before the Madrid atrocities, stated that Muslims must reform Al-Andalus. This was the name given to the Moorish kingdom of which Cordoba was the capital. Its name survives in the title of the province, Andalusia. Three days after the Madrid bombs, a general election was held. The government of Spain was replaced by the left-wing PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) of Jos?? Luis Rodr??guez Zapotero.
In May of 2004, the bishop of Santiago de Compostela removed from his cathedral a statue of St James the "Moorslayer". In a climate of sudden appeasement, created by Muslim terrorists, the bishop announced that he removed the statue to avoid "offending the sensibilities of some visitors."
Isabel Romero, a Spanish convert to Islam, directs the Halal Institute near Cordoba and is a member of the Islamic Council of Spain. In 2004, she said: "We don't recognize that the Muslims were from here, that they were Andalusians too, that they are our roots. What remains from Al Andalus are not just the Mezquita's stones, but our culture itself. We have to reconcile ourselves with our history."
On the March request for Muslims to be allowed prayer rights in the Mezquita, she said: "In no way is this request about reclaiming our rights - far less any kind of reconquest. Instead, we want to give our support to the universal character of this building."
The issue of Cordoba's Mezquita has become a political issue as much as a religious issue. Antonio Hurtado, a spokesman for Andalusian socialists, said: "We hope to see Cordoba become a place for the meeting of faiths."
Rosa Aguilar, mayor of Cordoba (from the United Left - IU - party) was said to approve the Muslim prayers being permitted in the Mezquita, but said that the time (a month after the Madrid attacks) was not right for the council to debate the issue.
Her deputy, Andres Ocoa said: "There has been a series of meetings between the IU and the Islamic Council to open up a dialogue between religions. In today's world, we have to make every effort to maximize our knowledge of different cultures to help us live together better."
Such attempts to impose socialist idealism upon political Islam, which has no plans to allow any mosques to be given over to Christian worship, were symptomatic of the political correctness which overtook Spain in the aftermath of Madrid.
Spain's premier, Jos?? Luis Rodr??guez Zapotero, has tried to be at the forefront of a "dialoque of cultures" between Islam and the West since 2005. His government in March 2006, after the Danish cartoon protests, even collaborated in a move to petition the United Nations to make blasphemy against Islam a "crime", with no corresponding attempt to make blasphemy against Christianity a "crime".
Since the Reconquest of Spain from the 800-year rule of the Moors, there have been traditions of celebrating the departure of Muslim imperialists from the land. These pageants are called Moros y Cristianos festivals. Yet across Spain, the traditional spectacles of these pageants are being deliberately altered, so as not to offend Spain's new Muslim immigrants.
The Current Petitions
And now, once more, political Islam in Spain is trying to assert itself. The trial of the Moorish terrorists and their accomplices who attacked Madrid is due to start in the New Year. On Tuesday December 26, only a day after Spain celebrated Christmas, the birth of Christ, Spain's Islamic Commission announced that it had decided to petition the new Pope, Benedict XVI, to allow Muslim worship at the Mezquita.
In December, a conference of Spain's Catholic Bishops released a statement in which it said it "did not recommend Muslims to pray in any way inside the Cathedral."
Mansur Escudero, secretary-general of the Spanish Islamic Commission, complained that Muslim worshippers at the Mezquita are still being prevented from praying. He said: "There are reactionary elements within the Catholic Church, and when they hear about the construction of a mosque, or Muslim teachings in state schools, or about veils, they see it as a sign we are growing and they oppose it."
The same group of Muslims led by Mansur Escudero had written a letter to the socialist premier of Spain, Jos?? Luis Rodr??guez Zapotero. In that letter, they stated: "What we wanted was not to take over that holy place, but to create in it, together with you and other faiths, an ecumenical space unique in the world which would have been of great significance in bringing peace to humanity. We (Spanish Muslims) would like to share with you (the Catholic community) a prayer, that could serve to awaken the conscience of Christians and Muslims and prove that it is possible to bury past confrontations."
The letter made reference to Pope Benedict's recent visit to Turkey, and how the Pope had prayed in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
While Muslims are seeking to exploit the issue of the Mezquita to their own political advantage, there are also plans to build a giant mosque in Cordoba, plans announced earlier in December. The proposal has been backed by Saudi Arabia and other countries. First put forward in 2003 and again in 2005, the request was turned down by Cordoba City Council.
The group behind this proposal is the same Islamic Commission which is trying to undermine the Catholicism being practiced at the Mezquita in Cordoba. As well as planning to build a giant mosque, it also wants to erect a "multi-purpose center" in the city, near its headquarters and also the al-Morabito mosque.
With all the complaints by Cordoba's Muslims (who number no more than 1,000) that there are not enough places where they can worship, Andalusia already has 100 mosques.


Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who has written for Western Resistance since its inception. He also writes for Spero News, Family Security Matters and He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.

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